Hey, umm, Siri?

I was happy this week to see that the topic of how far behind Siri is came up on many tech blogs. It is a topic I’ve thought, but not wrote, a lot about. In 2012 Siri was ahead on ability, but behind on speed. Earlier in 2016, prior to WWDC, I wrote a WWDC wish list and in it I wrote that I had hoped:

I hope Siri can do a lot more – I think we’re overdue on being able to say things like “Hey Siri, send the photo I just took to my wife.” Or “Hey Siri, open Spotify and play Jack White’s Blunderbuss.” Or “Hey Siri, find a note in Simplenote that I created on May 15th”. Or, even, “Hey Siri, show me all of the photos I’ve taken in Hawaii.”

Based on what I saw at WWDC I thought I was going to get some of these things. But I was wrong. There are a few things that Siri has improved in iOS 10 but overall it seems that it is falling further and further behind with every announcement from Apple’s competitors.

Even without any competition from other companies I still think Siri should be better than it is. The examples I gave above should already be possible. I’ve had some notes regarding a few queries that I thought Siri should be able to handle by now but she cannot and so I’d like to take one of those and add them to my wish list.

“Hey Siri, how long until it rains?”

This query would be huge for me personally. I use and open Dark Sky at least twice a day. Because I hike and kayak and go for a jog outdoors I like to know, as accurately as possible, when it will start raining. Do I have 30 minutes to get in a quick jog? Or do I have a few hours to go kayaking? I’d like to know and it’d be convenient for me if Siri could tell me.

Walt Mossberg:

For me, at least, and for many people I know, it’s been years. Siri’s huge promise has been shrunk to just making voice calls and sending messages to contacts, and maybe getting the weather, using voice commands.

Why are people only using it for these things? John Gruber explains:

The big problem Apple faces with Siri is that when people encounter these problems, they stop trying. It feels like you’re wasting your time, and makes you feel silly or even foolish for having tried.

Even if Siri has gotten better no one will know because they’ve already given up. I know in a lot of cases I have. And that may be a harder hurdle for Apple to jump over than simply improving Siri’s capabilities.


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